SALT LAKE CITY, UT - MARCH 17: Joe Ingles #2 of the Utah Jazz handles the ball against the Phoenix Suns on March 17, 2016 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
AP Photo
March 18, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) No Gordon Hayward? No problem for the Utah Jazz.

For the second consecutive game, the Jazz were without their top scorer, and for the second consecutive game, they put a mark in the win column.

The first was a defeat of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The second was the best defensive effort of the year against the Phoenix Suns.

Joe Ingles had a season-high 15 points and career-high six steals, Trey Lyles had 17 points and the Jazz beat the Suns 103-69 Thursday night to close the playoff gap with 14 games remaining.

The Jazz are now one game behind the Rockets and Mavericks, who are tied for the last two Western Conference playoff spots at 33-35. They are also 1 1/2 back of the Trail Blazers for sixth.

''We had everybody that came in the game, both played really hard and very unselfishly,'' Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. ''That's usually the kind of result you have a chance of getting when that happens.''

Utah's defense smothered Phoenix most of the night, and a 5-minute stretch to begin the second half put the Suns away. The Jazz opened the third with a 10-run for a 56-38 lead, and the Suns were unable to manage a single point for the first 5:27 of action.

''We played passive aggressive in the first half,'' Suns coach Earl Watson said. ''In the second half, we played timid. We couldn't hit a shot. We couldn't stop their runs. That isn't acceptable, that can't happen.''

Ingles got his second consecutive start with Gordon Hayward out with a foot injury. Shelvin Mack was close to a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

''The way our system is, it's not for Gordon or for anybody in particular,'' Ingles said. ''It goes side-to-side and we've got 15 guys that are willing to pass the ball. Whoever's going or whoever's open is going to take or get the shot.''

Brandon Knight led the Suns (18-50) with 17 points. The 69 points were a Suns season low and the fewest the Jazz have allowed this season.

The Jazz took a 46-38 lead into halftime thanks to a buzzer-beating corner-3 from Lyles.

Utah grabbed an early nine-point lead thanks to a 14-5 run capped by Rodney Hood's fast-break dunk. Jon Leuer's eight second-quarter points helped trim the lead to three, but the Jazz closed the half on a 7-2 stretch.

TIP-INS

Suns: Phoenix began the night as one of three teams officially eliminated from playoff contention. ... Alex Len scored 10 points and had 12 rebounds. ... Mirza Teletovic failed to hit a 3-pointer in a game for the first time since Jan. 29.

Jazz: Alec Burks missed his 40th game with a fractured right fibula. He was originally expected to be back by now, but there is still no timetable for his return. ... Snyder pushed the normal morning shoot-around to late afternoon Thursday in hopes of conserving some energy. ... Rudy Gobert had 16 rebounds.

OUT AGAIN

Hayward missed the game due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot. He is considered day-to-day after playing through the injury for some time.

''It may never completely be better, but there is a point where you become ineffective because of the pain,'' Snyder said. ''He's reached that point and is still at that point right now. He's improving. He's a tough guy.''

STEADY IMPROVEMENT

Suns rookie Devin Booker entered the game averaging 23.6 points in March, 13.5 in February and 17.3 in January after a slow start to the season. He topped out at an average of 7.6 points per game over the course of his first three months. Watson said he saw the potential in summer league and was assigned to work with him individually.

''We had a vision for him,'' Watson said. ''Handling the ball was one of those visions we talked about. He accepted it, worked on it and grew. ... Going into the season, you brought him along slowly, relied on the catch-and-shoot and he played well and had his moments.''

Booker was held to seven points Thursday and was minus-41.

FAMILY AFFAIR

Booker and Lyles were teammates on the Kentucky team that advanced to the Final Four last year. Lyles was selected No. 12 in the draft and Booker went No. 13.

QUOTABLE

''We have to close out the season on a positive note,'' Suns center Tyson Chandler said. ''Players have to continue to grow, continue to show character, continue to understand the game plan.

''There has been a lot of different things thrown at us this year. Things that players have had to adapt to so we have to continue to grow in the new offense and the new defense.''

UP NEXT

The Suns travel to face the Lakers on Friday.

The Jazz travel to face the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.

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